Science and the public
General science has been receiving some interesting news in the past week. I first heard a watered down summary of this report on npr that stated to the effect that scientists are still respected… but… the yahoo story seems to portray more. I was frustrated by the lack of clarity or should I say, ‘real science’ so I decided to source the information on the Pew Research Center’s webpage. I actually received a recent Science magazine publication that discussed this concept of measuring the results of science and how to quantify the outcomes or benefits of funding allocation.
In keeping with the distilled npr version that I heard, the Pew poll shows that scientists rank highly (among doctor’s, engineers, military and teachers) in the public’s perception of those that contribute to society. That is good news, but not entirely surprising. From a general public standpoint (that is, if I were not considering myself a scientist) we regard scientists among doctors and those that we look to for guidance, judgement and critical facts to make decisions that impact a great many lives. So, I am in agreement with the poll results and generally think it reflects society.
But, read a little further and the Pew article shows some conflicting results between how scientists and the public view the global standing of our scientific achievements. 10 years ago it stataes that 47% of the public considered science as our greatest achievement. That has fallen to 27%. Science seems quick to lay fault to the news media and general public in their lack of scientific knowledge and training, however I might disagree and say that this is partly the great divide that exists between the science community and their public. It is again, time for scientists to take full responsibility for inheriting and training the next generation of young minds, whether that be fellow colleagues in training (such as students and post-docs) or the general public. I strongly believe that as a scientist, you have the responsibility and honor to be a good mentor and set an example.
I might have to revisit the science article.